krx [Karon]
Word collection dates: 
Wednesday, 15 January, 2020 to Friday, 24 January, 2020
Total days: 
Hilol, Senegal
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Local context: 
Karon is a language spoken in the Gambia and the Casamance area of Southern Senegal. The Karon homeland is a number of islands surrounded by mangroves to the north of the river Casamance. Hilol, the location of the workshop, is a large village on the largest island. There has been SIL involvement with the language for many years, with some literacy classes, and there is an ongoing translation project. This project has translated and published Luke and Acts, which have also been released as audio.
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This workshop happened because Ekiyen Paul Jarju, the coordinator, had seen an RWC workshop in a related language and wanted to have one for his own language. SIL was able to assist him, and the workshop was mostly funded by the Seed Company, who already fund the Karon translation project, along with funds from SIL Dictionary & Lexicography Services. Ekiyen had done a lot of work beforehand to try and get participants, and the practical aspects of the workshop were well taken care of.

Getting people to take part in the whole of a two-week workshop on a voluntary basis is not easy, and this workshop was no exception. A number of key people had to leave for work reasons after only a few days of word collecting, and some representatives from other villages were not there for all the time. The workforce was reinforced by some people who could only attend the second week. Though occasionally there were 5 collection groups going, it was more often 4 small groups. It was sometimes a struggle having enough people to take the key roles of group leader and scribe.

There were three people who did most of the glossing, though not always at the same time. The glossing was a bottleneck, and Ekiyen sometimes worked in the evening to catch up.

Karon is a cross-border language (Senegal and The Gambia), and so some people were fluent in English and some in French. This made training a little more challenging, and the glosses were in French or English, depending on the glosser. It had the advantage that in mixed groups it helped avoid the tendency just to translate the questionnaire examples.

Being in a village situation meant that community events like funerals had an impact on the work. So the final amount of word-collection time was reduced from what was originally planned.

Most of those who took part were enthusiastic about the work and were committed to the success of the project. Though the original goal of 10,000 words was not reached, much of the data collected was of good quality, and the workshop was judged to be a success by the organisers.

What contributed to the results?

Some of the participants were very motivated, and most worked the full time available each day. Some good language experts lived near where the workshop was being held.

What hindered the results?

Holding the workshop in a village location like Hilol meant that a funeral wiped out one day’s work and reduced several others.

Several very capable people had to leave after only a few days, due to work commitments, with the result that for a while we were short of good team leaders.

Despite the training, some strong personalities didn’t completely grasp the concept, and slowed progress with unnecessary discussion.

What is the impact of this workshop?

Difficult to determine. Some people were very enthused by it, but as there is no ongoing literacy program, it is difficult to see where they would put their energy. We hope, though, that this will mean that people are more motivated to access Scripture in their language, as well as to continue to be involved with the dictionary.